Illinois center Kofi Cockburn declares for the NBA Draft


EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – FEBRUARY 27: Kofi Cockburn #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini dunks in the first half against Robbie Beran #31 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena on February 27, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

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CHAMPAIGN – At the end of the regular season, he was one of those players in college basketball who was hoping to have NCAA Tournament performances to put on a potential pro basketball resume.

But Kofi Cockburn, like others in college basketball, didn’t get that chance, so his performance for Illinois during the regular season is what he’d have to show for scouts.

Not that it’s a bad thing, considering the center’s outstanding play in his first season with the Illini. That was enough for the center to make a major change in his life.

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On Monday, through a post on his Instagram, Cockburn declared his intention to enter the NBA Draft this coming June. He does so after spending one memorable season in Champaign, though if he doesn’t have an agent, Cockburn could still return to school for his sophomore season.

“To my team, the bon I have created with my teammates is something I will cherish forever. We continued to uplift, encourage, and motivate one another on and off the court and for that I am thankful,” said Cockburn in his Instagram post. “To Illini Nation: What a road it’s been. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms. You guys made this journey all the more special. Game after game, you’ve filled the arena show us what true unconditional support is!”

The native of Kingston, Jamaica was a big reason Illinois had a major turnaround during the 2019-2020 season. His inside presence bolstered the team as they went 21-10 and 15-3 in the conference, and would have been selected for their first NCAA Tournament since 2013.

Cockburn averaged 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31 games with 44 total blocks on his way to being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

The center is projected, at the moment, to be a second round pick.


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